DV Talks: Closing the Green Technology Gap — Accelerating Climate Action Through Corporate Innovation
Learn how a BCGDV Alum is improving access to electric vehicles
The world is facing a 20–30% innovation gap in new green technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 will require the transformation of every sector of the economy.
Today’s climate and environmental challenges can only be addressed through action by the world’s most ambitious corporations, investors, institutions, and entrepreneurs.
In the latest edition of our DV Talks series, we caught up with one such entrepreneur. BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV) managing director and partner, Danielle Ullner, and Chris Darby, former BCGDV Alum and now Co-Founder of ev.energy, discuss how the “wicked problem” of climate change was the inspiration behind ev.energy, why corporates need to do more to tackle sustainability, and whether electric vehicles really are greener. Here are seven soundbites you don’t want to miss, or you can watch the full conversation below.
“The story of ev.energy actually begins at BCG.”
Chris met and worked closely with his ev.energy Co-Founder Nick Woolley at BCG, before joining BCG Digital Ventures, where he worked on numerous energy-related ventures.
It wasn’t until a stint on jury duty several years later led to a period of reflection and reconnection with Nick. The duo eventually launched ev.energy with a mission to make electric vehicle charging simpler, greener, and more cost effective for everyone.
Chris explains that climate change has been classified as a “wicked problem,” one that is complex, challenging, and with no single solution.
He goes on to explain how he and Nick set about studying solutions to other wicked problems (i.e. solar energy), how many macroeconomic drivers around the climate problem aligned, and why they settled on EVs as one way of creating a solution to the wicked problem of climate change.
“We’ve got fantastic macroeconomic conditions for this but the missing piece was the customer, the friction for the customer, so that was really where our research was focused.”
Chris highlighted that the team discovered that plugging in EVs was “painful in many ways” for customers because of the stress of finding charging points, settling on the right energy plan, as well as range anxiety.
After speaking with many customers and identifying specific patterns of behavior triggered by these frustrations, Chris shared: “that’s what drove us to attack this problem space with ev.energy [charging] as the solution.”
“One of our values as a company is to find the ‘win-win-win.’”
- Winning for the energy grid by reducing the need for infrastructure investment
- Winning for energy retailers by enabling them to create a group of loyal customers (with higher energy demands)
- Winning for society by using more renewables when possible and reducing the load on the grid when it’s full of fossil fuel power
- Winning for the customers by saving them money, solving the charging problem, and making them feel good about driving green
“Corporates can do more and they must do more.”
Chris noted that this meant looking beyond a company’s direct carbon footprint, and could range across the following:
- Innovation, ie BCG Green Ventures, a recently launched team and offering under BCG Digital Ventures which will focus on building, scaling, and investing in businesses that enable a 1.5°C world
- Strategic level considerations like future-proofing scenarios (How will your business survive in 20 years if temperatures and oceans rise? What can your organization look like in a world with no carbon emission? Could you make your product or your company carbon negative?)
- Engaging with and/or investing in start-ups in the green technology space
- Ensuring supply chains in which you operate are sustainable
“We need to do a bit of a reality check — the average driver in Europe is doing about 30 miles a day.”
Chris argues that range anxiety shouldn’t be a barrier to buying an EV — he shares: “if your vehicle has a 200 to 250 mile range, most people’s bladders have a similar range.”
The technology gap around charging is being bridged — “it’s getting better day by day” — and stopping for 15 minutes for a comfort break is enough time to recharge an EV for a further 150 miles.
“Yes EVs are greener — fundamentally.”
While the embedded carbon in the manufacture of an EV is similar to an internal combustion engine, the tailpipe emission is zero — “if nothing else, you’ve taken all the pollution out of the cities and pushed it back into the grid, which is solving half the problem.”
Chris explained that once you factor in the typical fuel mix of a European energy grid, “within four years you’ve paid off your carbon debt for buying an EV versus a conventional vehicle.”